Ikura and sujiko are two names for the same thing: Both are salmon roe. The only difference between them is that sujiko is salted salmon roe still in the sack, whereas ikura is salmon roe that has been removed from the sack before it is salted. Sometimes these two are also differentiated by the maturity of the roe itself. Sujiko, which remains intact inside the sack while being marinated, is quite rich and is popular among experienced roe connoisseurs.
Ikura, on the other hand, has a peculiarly appealing texture and is universally accepted. As for their color, sujiko is normally red or dark red, while ikura is a usually a lighter shade of red with a tint of orange. The difference in color gives us different impressions.

As to the methods of preparation, both fresh sujiko and ikura are marinated in soy sauce, other sauces, salt, or miso (soybean paste). This removes the fishy smell from the eggs and preserves them at the same time. The first thing that needs to be done with sujiko at this phase is to soak the sujiko in mild salt water to remove the blood. After that you can rub some salt in, or marinate it in a soy sauce, mirin (sweet cooking wine), and fish broth mixture. With ikura, on the other hand, the additional step of separating the eggs from the sack before marinating is required. This procedure involves soaking some sujiko in luke warm water, gently squeezing it to separate individual eggs, discarding the sack, and then marinating the eggs.

The way people eat each type is also slightly different. Sujiko is considered to be a delicacy and its rich and sweet flavor has gained strong popularity. Placing a piece of sujiko on top of a bowl of freshly steamed rice is like taking a royal road of flavor. You can also use sujiko as a filling for rice balls: The heat from the steamed rice melts the sujiko and the rice absorbs its delicious flavor. Superb! In addition, sujiko makes a perfect accompaniment for alcoholic beverages since it is quite salty.

Moving on to ikura, the best way to eat ikura is also to put some of the ikura directly onto steamed rice. Many ikura fans have eaten it this way for a long time. The contrast between the fluorescent orange eggs and the sparkling white rice is very appetizing to Japanese people. The fact that a bowl of rice with ikura has its own name, it is called “ikuradon,” is proof of its widespread popularity. (Unfortunately, there is no “sujikodon.”) Ikura is also popular as a sushi component. When served with grated daikon (Japanese radish), and known as “ikura oroshi,” the resulting dish is very refreshing and makes for a fabulous appetizer. Some unique ways to eat ikura are having it with pasta or sprinkling it over ochazuke (rice with tea) ... Such versatility may be one of the reasons why ikura is so popular. It appears that ikura may have won the title overall as the most popular salmon roe.

Lastly, I would like to mention the origin of the word, ikura. It actually derives from Russian word “,” or “ikra,” which basically means “fish eggs” or “litstle pebbly things.” In Russia, it also refers to caviar. The word was adapted into the Japanese language and became “ikura.” When the eggs are raw and still in a sack, Japanese originally called it “nama-sujiko.” In order to differentiate the salted or flavored varieties from nama-sujiko, the former simply came to be called sujiko. Both are salmon roe, yet sujiko and ikura have slightly different flavors. Enjoy either or both according to your liking.